Power Over Happiness

Dear Gary I have a question,

I understand that an agreement can be changed regarding an emotional reaction.  But, people do move to California for better weather, or move away from Los Angeles to get away from traffic, or in your case, you said that there are people you just don’t want to have lunch with anymore.  To me, these are preferences.  I’m not sure how you would distinguish a preference from an emotional reaction.  It’s the emotional reaction that causes the preference?

Thank you JJS

Hi, JJS,

Yes circumstances and our preferences for certain circumstances make a difference but there is another factor that we have to consider.  That there are beliefs in our mind that are playing a part as well and that is something we can change.

What about people that have wonderful things in their life go their way. Even a great relationship with someone wonderful or career success in Hollywood.  Then they end up feeling unfulfilled, unhappy, empty inside.  Some turn to drugs and destroy all of it.  They had circumstances that would seem to be all their preferences,,, and no emotional state to match.  That’s because there was something going on in their mind causing their unhappiness and it didn’t have anything to do with their circumstances.

At the other extreme we can take Nelson Mandela who was unjustly imprisoned for 27 years.  He walks out with no bitterness and no sense of victimization or hate.  He forgives his captors as if he never judged them to begin with.  His emotional state contradicts his circumstances.   So what is really causing his emotional state to be in such a way?  It is not his circumstances.  So what is it?  I propose that it is the interpretations in our mind that we believe in,, or don’t believe in.   If we can find these beliefs in our mind, and change them, then we can change our emotional state without having to change other people, or even our self.

So I have avoided the question.  Where and when are our emotions caused by our beliefs and where and when are they being determined by our circumstances.   The only way to find out is to honestly and ruthlessly challenge the beliefs and see where  our emotions shift.  When they do not, then perhaps we are dealing with a circumstance issue.  But we can not be sure that is the case until we have removed any possible beliefs that are interfering.   In summary, what I am saying is that I can not answer the question for you.  You have to discover it for your self.

Happy Hunting,


In response to one of the free exercises in the Self Mastery course.